German Youth Selections Accused of Body Shaming

This is an interesting article. The selectors fully admit they want riders to be in the same fitness as the horses. This is a sensitive subject for sure.

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“He detailed that the pursuit of excellence is not only demanded from the horse, but also from the rider as athlete in high performance sport.”

He’s not wrong.

I think for a professional team, it is totally reasonable to want the riders to be the same fitness as the horses. You (general) call your horse and yourself an athlete, so you better be one. It’s only fair to the horse.

However, body shaming is not ok, but I’m not sure if that is what happened or someone didn’t meet fitness requirements and called it body shaming. I’d have to read more. I am also not sure how they determine rider fitness (what the test entails). For example, I carry more weight than my friend but am more fit then her, I have more strength and stamina. So while she is a very tiny person, she is not very fit. If it’s purely about fitness, that’s fine. If it is just about looks, that’s a problem.

A lot of riders aren’t so fit, I think it’s fine to say that and we can’t totally walk on eggshells about it, nor can we straight up shame them. It’s difficult and a sensitive subject, in my opinion.

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not sure whether you know that since 2012 in Germany for the junior teams, a Sporttest is required. All the juniors have to pass this test several times… Not sure whether this is body shaming, but it has 12 parts, und I translated it into English for a friend a couple of years ago. But I can’t find it anymore…

Its a quite interesting test and you can find it as a PDF in German. It was developed for regular kids some years ago and is now used for the National junior team. I think they are even better then regular kids, but I am not sure about it…

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It sounds incredibly competitive so I’m not surprised they want not only those who appear in the best shape but also create a positive image they are going for.

I do think Equestrian sports are one sport where fitness of the athlete (rider) is not encouraged or education about it is not pushed as much as other sports.

That being said body shaming is never ok. It would be interesting to know if that actually occurred and if so who was responsible.

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it sounds a bit like she failed the sporttest… that’s the info in German about it…https://www.pferd-aktuell.de/news/aktuelle-meldungen/sport/sportmotorischer-test-fuer-reiter-trainingsmanual-aktualisiert
somehow I am too stupid to copy the link to the Training manual…

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It’s appropriate and necessary to qualify state-representatives with a fitness exam. In my field of expertise, there are only ever around 150 of us nationwide. Federal fitness exams are done every single year to continue being deployable. Basic foundational physical fitness for the handler is mandatory. (BMI is one of the many things tested btw), but physical ‘attractiveness’ is def NOT a consideration!

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Not exactly the same thing but along the same lines… I was listening to a podcast the other day and the UL eventer that was speaking said that she thinks riders need to be athletic… like not just fit but able to pick up another sport easily. I can see her point but also take exception because I was pretty terrible at traditional school sports. Curious what others think?

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I think that person might be confusing functional fitness with speciality fitness.

Everyone should maintain a level of fitness and strength that would enable them to run a distance or lift a weight or perform a task that requires athletic coordination like kick a soccer ball or run a speed ladder. These are functional items that enable us as human beings to perform human tasks.

I wouldn’t take that to mean that everyone should be able to just take up softball, but instead have a basic level of functional mobility that would allow them to perform athletic tasks. I don’t think it’s a statement of skill but instead accessibility.

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There is nothing wrong with expecting high level riders to have a high level of fitness. And if she failed the fitness test, then fair enough. But a lot of the coverage / discussion has focused on the rider’s size, shape, and weight, which shouldn’t factor in to the equation if she is performing successfully at the required levels, achieved the scores necessary to make the team, and passed the fitness test.

Large does not equal unfit, and skinny certainly doesn’t equal fit. Sadly a lot of the commentary had just devolved into fat shaming.

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Agree with this, have you seen other articles that discussed it further?

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I think that many top riders are natural athletes, and jumpers in particular can also excel in other high speed high risk high skill sports like downhill skiing.

But many recreational riders are not natural athletes and riding is the only high risk high skill sport they’ve ever attempted.

I only wanted to ride as a teen. As an adult without horses I kept fit with low risk activities like aerobics, fitness stuff, hiking, swimming lengths, tried ocean kayaking and tennis but they didn’t stick.

Back in horses now. But yeah, never going to be an eventer.

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Yes - lots of commentary on various Facebook pages and groups.

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I think you have a point there with age and risk and body type. I was explaining to a teen barn worker the other day that I don’t event like most of the barn because my body can’t take the risk I could when I was younger and healthier. As we age and hormones change our bodies naturally change, and there’s only so much you can do to address that.

Are there body types that are more inclined towards better performance in different horse sports? Sure, but there is also generally a wider range of body types that can excel in the sport compared to some others. I do also think the success of paradressage has shown that you can be a fit, excellent rider even if you don’t fit the cookie-cutter “fit (abled)body” expectations. That’s the problem with standardized fitness tests - you need across-the-board metrics to judge people but people aren’t standardized.

(I do think functional fitness and nutrition should be addressed in riding but that’s not body type or appearance, we all look awkward in white breeches anyway so that’s moot - speaking as someone with some squish).

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This, definitely this!

If there are levels of fitness to be achieved, and they’re not, that isn’t fat shaming, it’s fit shaming.

Even at mount barn, everyone gets lectured about being the best athlete you can be, fit and eating a healthy diet. If you want to succeed you have to work at it, your choice.

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Reading the EuroDressage article, the rider achieved the required scores but her “physical condition” was called into question. From the article - “This body weight issue caused friction and emotional stress between the rider and team trainer, which resulted in the rider being rejected for team selection trials.”

It appears that overweight = poor physical condition which the rider did not “improve” and thus she was penalized. Her effort and riding ability were negated by the rider not fitting an image. As to how over weight she was, I dunno. For some folks, anyone above a size zero is fat; heaven forbid a 6, 10, or 14.

Edited to remove contradictory and controversial phrase “[Her effort and riding ability] were given zero value; in fact they”

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I have a tough time with this article because they say all this was substantiated but then offer absolutely zero proof or even anonymous quotes with any actual information. Basically there’s zero here except a vague allegation and an equally vague response.

We are making a lot of assumptions about what actually took place based on the vagueness of this article. I’m not saying gross details are required, but this is an assumption:

Her effort and riding ability were given zero value

when in fact reality could be that the demerits assigned for this point were not overcome by the effort and riding ability, which is a more logical basis from which to assess the situation.

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AND>>>>>>this is why we have SafeSport. (Except that the rider could be shamed into not making a report).

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You’re correct. I will go back and remove that phrasing and stick with “Her effort and riding abilty … were negated by not fitting the image.”

And I will repeat it, as long as there is no information about how the sport test was part of the issue, we don’t know what happened

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Based off of what we know (not much) I don’t think SafeSport would be able to do anything/that there would be much of a case here, if this happened in the US.

We’d have to know more.

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